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Agile Content Development Framework: Interview with Sandra Policht and Jacek Konopelski

In this blog, I will present my interview with Jacek Konopelski and Sandra Policht. They will introduce Agile Content Development Framework: a special implementation of the classical Agile framework in the area of the training and content development. They will also explain the benefits Agile Content Development can bring to your business.

Angelina: The Cloud computing world is continuously evolving with new market trends emerging and software features developed daily. It’s quite a difficult environment to keep up with for content creators from enablement departments such as training, presales or documentation. Do you feel the pressure?

Sandra: Yes. It’s true that the on-going deployment of software sets a demanding pace for the production of enablement materials, often leaving little to no room for innovation and adaptation to learner preferences. Particularly, the constant cloud release cycles keep education teams busy, as they need to create and maintain engaging content on tight schedules. To address this challenge, we introduced the Agile Content Development (ACD) framework within our team.

Angelina: Is it possible for a team to achieve amazing results and stay in the game of supporting software adoption, despite the unstable environment?

Jacek: Definitely. The agile framework is a methodical approach to cope with changing and evolving requirements, by adopting a set of tried and proven concepts that help companies increase efficiency and nurture overall better work practices, adaptability and flexibility. You can easily translate those concepts in all sorts of corporate settings, whether you are a start-up business or a long-known player in the enterprise world.

Angelina: How would you describe the main concepts of Agile Content Development framework?

Sandra: Based on our experience, there are 3 main concepts in the ACD framework that are key for a successful content delivery: the Backlog Prioritization Process, the MVP mindset and implementation of SCRUM roles.

You can start with a Backlog Prioritization Process. By gathering demands from stakeholders and sorting incoming requests in order of importance, your team will achieve a foundation they can build on. It’s essential to figure out a clear matrix with all relevant factors to guide you on how to treat the incoming requests. This set of fixed criteria give you an outline to turn messy and undefined tasks into an organized pattern which is accessible to everyone within the company.

During the Backlog Prioritization process, you discuss requests and answer when and how to solve the tasks at hand.

Once you select your next content development task, your team can follow one practical mindset: the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Assumption is: the timelines and quality standards are fixed, while the scope of the content can be flexible adjusted. The team focuses on the “must have” content generating the highest value for the learner without breaching the integrity of the content asset. You can develop the content that doesn’t belong to “must have” category in the future iterations of the development. This approach tames our inner perfectionist by defining which elements are crucial for the success of your project and which one can be left for next updates or other formats.

Another tip to streamline efforts and to establish a clear division of labor is to introduce roles. Nominating members of the team for designated agile roles is a concept borrowed from the SCRUM framework and it allows individuals to keep their attention on their priorities.

Angelina: Readers, if you would like to learn more about the Agile Content Development read the “Agile Content Development for software adoption – Is enablement really a piece of cake? A quite tasty recipe for success.” blog post. If you are interested in the Backlog Prioritization process, read Jacek’s blog post.

Angelina: That sounds like an inspirational approach to teamwork. What would a potential model for work distribution look like?

Jacek: In the Agile Content Development framework, each team member has a clearly defined role. By making use of roles, you introduce levels of responsibility and a clear understanding of tasks and accountabilities. The roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Developer Team are adjusted to the content development context.

A Product Owner owns their corresponding education portfolio and has a high-level understanding of a product’s capabilities. This is a person with an understanding of customers’ needs and what’s essential for them.

Scrum Masters ensure that the team can accomplish their tasks in defined timelines by organizing and moderating activities, distributing tasks and tracking progress. They help bring the team together and channel efforts to overcome obstacles, while monitoring that the expected workload doesn’t exceed the team’s capacity.

Content developers create high quality and engaging learning content. Simple as that!

Angelina: Readers, if you would like to find our more read the “Running an agile content development team like restaurant” blog post.

Angelina: How does Agile Content Development increase efficiency in the content development process?

Sandra: A very effective technique is to build content incrementally and achieve milestones, specific goals in so-called sprints. The idea of sprints is to have short production cycles that deliver value and quality in a fixed time horizon, generating potentially presentable content as a result.

After each sprint, your team should take a pause and reflect on the results of their work. They evaluate not only what was delivered and what else they need to plan or replan for future milestones based on their findings, but also take into consideration how they collaborated, communicated, came together as a team. This helps your team to align, estimate upcoming efforts, and predict difficulties and risks better. Such reflection tremendously supports team’s growth and improves future performance.

Angelina: Are there any last thoughts you want to share with us?

Jacek: The Agile Content Development framework has served us well for the past several years and evolved along with our team. Whatever the size of your organization is, you will need a structured method to make quality decisions on content production. Next time you are tight on time and experience pressure from stakeholders, give this method a try. Nothing should stop your department from achieving awesome learning experiences.

Angelina: Thank you, Sandra and Jacek for taking the time to speak to me.

 

 

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